Selenium is a trace element and an essential part of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which protects cells from oxidative damage. Selenium has been shown to have antiproliferative, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune altering effects. Serum selenium concentrations in 101 patients with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis were found to be significantly lower than those in 29 normal, healthy controls (mean (SD) 148 (42) v 160 (25) micrograms/l) and also lower than those in eight patients with fibrositis (148 (42) v 166 (25) micrograms/l). It is speculated that serum selenium concentrations may modulate the effect of viral or other infections in subjects with the appropriate genetic background and in this way enhance the development or progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
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